Tough times making consumers more selective about spirits they drink

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Paul Scanlon (Supplied)
Paul Scanlon (Supplied)

Times are tough economically and consumers are changing their drinking habits, becoming more selective about where and how they consume spirits, Paul Scanlon, managing director of Pernod Ricard in South Africa and Namibia, tells Fin24.

"We see from research that consumers are moving back into bars and clubs in the townships, for instance, to be closer to home and their friends and families," he explains.

"During economically challenging times these outlets are more accessible and reasonably priced. Some of these outlets are really best in class."

One of the general trends he sees in SA in the consumption of premium spirits is gin taking off and increasing in popularity.

"It is encouraging to see both local craft gins as well as international brands succeeding. This is mainly due to the enormous versatility of gin and its appeal for all ages and genders," says Scanlon.   

Pernod Ricard is a premium spirits and champagne company providing brands such as Jameson, Absolut, Ballantine's, G H Mumm, Martell, Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet and, more recently, gins such as Monkey 47 and Malfy.

Based in France, the company has a de-centralised business model which allows it, as an affiliate market, to adopt a consumer-centric approach to marketing and doing business in South Africa.

The company has been operating in South Africa for more than 25 years. Pernod Ricard has 12 affiliates across sub-Sahara Africa and the continent has become a major area of expansion for the group.

Pernod Ricard has recently globally launched its new Sustainability and Responsibility road map to 2030. It includes its "Circular Making" pledge to remove all plastic straws in its business, address packaging and waste and reduce its carbon footprint by 50%.

Ensuring that Scanlon that legislation governing alcohol remains balanced and fair is very important for Scanlon. He is a board member of Aware.org, which aims at reducing the negative effects of alcohol abuse.

"In general, we need to find the right balance between building long term equity for our brands and being successful at the point where the consumer purchases the drink or bottle," he says.

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